Metanoia Collective: Explosion of lights and sound

by Katie Camacho

Metanoia Collective burst into the Bellingham music scene last fall with the tree-shaking, grass-flattening Bass Out Back; a night which saw WWU’s Outback Farm transform into a tiny Shambhala. Metanoia filled the normally-quiet amphitheater with DJs, a custom-built stage, live painters, art installations, complimentary tea, and of course, crowds of dancing people. With over 200 in attendance throughout the night – including a number of passerby drawn towards the curious lights and music – the event was a resounding success, setting a colorful, festive tone for Metanoia’s place in Bellingham event productions.

Metanoia events display a relentless dedication to producing immersive arts and music experiences – these aren’t your average night at the club. At any given Metanoia event, attendees find themselves perfectly lost in a whirling dervish of sound, light, and color, as psychedelic projection mappings unfold behind the stage and DJs serve up dish after dish of heavy drops and massive sublines. For those less inclined to the bone-rattling beats consistently delivered by Metanoia’s bookings, the Collective provides spaces like the Living Room, where guests can take a breather and connect with each other.

Innovative use of venue is something Metanoia takes very seriously; and they’ve certainly learned how to wield their creativity. Spaces like the Outback Farm or Boundary Bay’s Beer Garden become mythical enclaves of adventure under the hands of Metanoia producers Kelsey O’Grady, Linden Nolen, and Neal Lynberg.

“I think it’s hard to expect people to go to a show and focus on just standing there, watching, for four or five hours,” Linden explained. “It’s important to diversify and have other things going on where you can take a break and refresh.”

Metanoia focuses on working in-depthly with their venues, utilizing event zones to create an experience that fosters community growth. “We always try to create spaces for people to engage with the event and with each other, rather than just the music,” Kelsey said. “We like to feature cuddle spots and couches and little zones; things like collaborative art spaces that get people talking to one another.”

The inclusion of these aspects is evidence of Metanoia’s festival inspirations. Founded on the roots of renegade culture, which revolves around throwing free, community-based shows, Metanoia strives to create a more accessible version of the music festivals that brighten many of our summers.

“What sets us apart is our focus on promoting local artists in a festival-inspired setting. We always try to bring the festival vibe into venues that wouldn’t normally see that sort of thing,” Linden said.

Festivals are a place where people experience a sense of freedom and acceptance; Metanoia aims to recreate that experience in a local capacity. “Acceptance translates into people building stronger relationships with the people that they spend time with,” Neal said. “If we can use events like these to build stronger relationships with the people we interact with on the day-to-day, we’ll in turn build a stronger community.”

Kelsey added that the idea of working to foster the community has always been at the core of Metanoia’s intentions with their events.

“Metanoia began with a pretty basic idea,” Neal explained. “We just wanted to have fun and throw an event where we could listen to the music we liked out in the forest; to create something with that little, consumable festival vibe.” Linden added that “[Metanoia] started with just a meeting, bringing some people together that all had a mission to make something happen around bass music. All it took was a few people with a love for bass music and festival culture contributing what they could, whether that was ideas, art, speakers, generators – all the pieces that we needed to throw an event.”

This is exactly how Bass Out Back came to fruition, with Metanoia members hauling equipment down the Outback’s hill and running out to make last-minute purchases until the farm filled with lights and music.

In the upcoming months, Metanoia plans to explore different event formats – like daytime events – in order to encourage even more community growth. This summer’s After Sounds event series explored a number of different genres, and while bass music will always be the keystone of Metanoia’s sound, the flexible Collective has shown they can mix it up. When asked what’s in store for Metanoia’s near events, the group kept mum as their faces lit up in promising grins. “Expect to see some collaborations with bigger artists in bass music,” Linden said. If Metanoia’s previous events are any indication, this next event is going to be exquisitely odd, and not one to miss.

Follow Metanoia Collective on social media for updates.